Trent Ernst, Editor
Local Tumbler Ridge band the Mechanical Botanicals will be joining area artists like Scarlet Sway and Folky Strum Strum at the Big Chill Music Festival on March 18 to usher in an end to winter with a night of music.
The concert, a partnership between the Encana Events Centre and Sound in town, will see at least ten artists from the Peace playing for “at least four hours straight back to back music.”
The band is made up of two members: James Mannion and Lydia Hibbing, both of whom have been playing music around town for a number of years before getting together as The Mechanical Botanicals in 2015.
Piano player and vocalist Lydia Hibbing says the band has two new songs, and will playing two other original songs, plus the usual litany of covers.
While the duo will be playing at SweetWater 905 in June in Rolla, this is their biggest gig so far. “We will be playing for 30 minutes,” says Hibbing. “They put out a call for performers last November, and we applied. It was a lengthy process before we were accepted.”
The duo find their influences in a number of places. Mannion draws a lot of influence from the blues and the Beatles. “All of the Beatles songs that I know how to play I have learned from James,” says Hibbing, who grew up listening to a lot of R&B and Soul. “I don’t consciously go to that type of music when I write or anything but I listened to an awful lot of it growing up so it informs my creativity on that level.”
But that, says Hibbing isn’t it, really. “I think my musical influences were the actual people in my life who played music and who I sang with growing up. My best friend’s mother used to play music and I sang backup harmony. That was where I got my start with playing the bass guitar too. My mother used to sing with us and I took piano lessons from her for a number of years. My Grandmother played the piano (as did many of my relatives) and we would always be singing or playing music growing up. In my teen years I was exposed to a lot of tent meeting style gospel county music. This was when I also developed a love of R&B and Soul music, punk and electronic.”
If you were looking for a place where the two member’s overlap musically, says Hibbing, it’s the Tedeshi Trucks Band. “The band has taken some of our influence from The Tedeschi Trucks Band, who blend many different genres of music together to create truly great music. I do like other genres of music. All genres of music. And yes we will be doing one Beatles number at the show—Something.”
The band will be releasing an EP soon, which they are self recording. “The show we are playing at the Encana Events Centre will be just vocals guitar and piano—our traditional duo. The EP has James playing bass guitar and percussion, I play piano and we both sing.”